He was infatuated with his colleague and was desperate for her to fall in love with him.
After browsing online, the married man purchased two vials of what was supposed to be a love potion for US$200 (S$290).
He then sneakily poured the "love potion" into his colleague's water bottle and waited.
What he did not know was that the potion contained harmful substances such as a sedative used by vets as well as an anti-psychotic drug.
The man was caught after the woman became suspicious and used her mobile phone to secretly film what was happening to her drinks.
Yesterday, Wong Fook Hiong, 43, was fined $1,500 for a negligent act that endangered human life.
Wong was a technical support officer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic and had taken notice of a 30-year-old lecturer.
In November 2014, the lecturer found that the water in the bottle she left on her desk tasted funny.
On at least two occasions, the water tasted bitter, prompting her to spit it out.
She also felt her throat becoming dry, was unable to think clearly and had trouble sleeping at night.
Suspicious, she decided to leave her mobile phone with the video recording function switched on at her desk to find out what was happening to her water bottle.
On Jan 12 last year, she set up her mobile phone at her desk and left for a lecture at about 5.30pm.
When she returned at 8pm, the video recording showed Wong walking to her desk, taking out a glass vial of an unknown substance and emptying the contents into her mineral water bottle.
He was also seen mixing the substance with her water by shaking the bottle, which he later placed in its original position.
The lecturer made a police report the next day and Wong was arrested.
Wong told the authorities that he wanted the lecturer to fall in love with him and had purchased two vials of a "love potion" from an unknown website.
His plan was to pour the "love potion" into her water bottle, wait for her to drink it and fall in love with him.
But he had no idea the supposed potion actually contained xylazine, a sedative and muscle relaxant. It is used by veterinarians and is not approved for use in humans.
The "potion" also contained haloperidol, an anti-psychotic drug that can cause insomnia, excessive muscle activity, depression and drowsiness. Both chemicals are listed as poisons under the Poisons Act.
Wong said he did not check the contents of the "love potion" before adding it to the lecturer's water.
Yesterday, Assistant Public Prosecutor N.K. Anitha asked for the maximum fine and said it was fortuitous that the lecturer did not suffer serious harm.
Defence counsel Javern Sim said in mitigation that his client, who is married to a Vietnamese woman and has no children, lost his job of 17 years soon after police began investigations.
Wong has been on financial assistance since August last year and is struggling to care for his family, he added.
Mr Sim also said that Wong was assessed by Dr Tommy Tan of Novena Psychiatric Clinic to be suffering from a mood disorder since he was young. "His disorder caused him to be immature in thinking and to have attention-seeking behaviour. He was trying his best to get the attention of the lecturer he liked very much."
He added that Wong was only seeking an "emotional attachment".
A Ngee Ann Polytechnic spokesman told The New Paper that Wong was no longer working with the institution.
Wong declined to comment.
For committing a negligent act that endangered human life, he could have been jailed up to three months and fined up to $1,500.
LOVE POTION? NO SUCH THING
A psychiatrist in private practice, Dr Thomas Lee, said it is impossible that there is a potion to make one fall in love with another.
"There is no chemical that can make someone fall in love with another. It's not just about physical attraction but also emotional bonding and shared experiences," he said.
"If anyone were to believe in this, it's almost like they're living in a fantasy."
When asked about "hormone sprays" that have been advertised on the Internet, Dr Lee rubbished any suggestion about their effectiveness.
"There has been no scientific evidence to show that such sprays work," he said. "Even if there have been studies published, I think there is a lot more research that needs to be done before it can be conclusive."
Despite this, a quick search on the Internet turned up a number of so-called guides on how to make a "love potion".
Most recipes listed natural ingredients such as dried rose and jasmine flowers, and common kitchen spices like cinnamon and vanilla.
Several English language sites that sold the "potions" also claimed to use natural ingredients like roses and "Hawthorne blossoms", preserving the concoction with brandy.
But a search in Chinese led to something more sinister-sounding. A website in Chinese had a variety of "love potions" and sex pills.
Prices ranged from RMB388 ($85) for a bottle of "love spray" that promised to make someone fall in love with you to RMB1,800 for "Thai love powder".
According to the website description, the "love powder" is made of ground poisonous snakes, scorpions, centipedes, spiders and poisonous toads and is supposed to make the consumer compliant.
It is unclear exactly what effects this would have on a person and what active ingredients there are in the "powder".
General practitioners warn against buying any medicine online.
A general practitioner who wanted to be known only as Dr SP Ng said that while treatments such as Botox may be derived from natural ingredients, it has been processed in a sterile environment and its dosage is controlled by licensed doctors.
He said: "It's dangerous when you're unclear of what the active ingredients are and furthermore, it's unlikely to work as advertised.
In fact, the side effects from the drug could even outweigh the intended benefits."
General practitioner Madeleine Chew agreed, saying that such potions could be dangerous because of the side effects.
Ex-A*Star scholar poisoned lab mates' drinks
Former A*Star scholar Ouyang Xiangyu, 27, was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to complete 176 days of community service last Friday, after pleading "no contest" to four counts of poisoning.
Ouyang was arrested on Nov 16, 2014, after poisoning the drinking water of two Stanford laboratory mates between September and November that year.
The lab mates, in court documents, said they experienced a burning sensation in their throats after drinking from their bottles. There was no serious injury.
When questioned by the police, Ouyang said she had been experiencing severe insomnia and dizziness since September 2014 and was not aware of what she was doing.
She admitted to putting paraformaldehyde in two water bottles belonging to two lab mates, but said she never had any personal issues with them and "didn't mean to harm people".
Ouyang, who has since been expelled from Stanford University, had also allegedly sabotaged a lab mate's experiments from mid-August last year.
She was ordered to stay away from the campus and to have no contact with the victims during the probation period.
Ex-officer mixed semen in colleagues' drinks
A former civilian officer with the Singapore Police Force was jailed 18 months on Dec 1, 2010, for mixing his semen in his colleagues' drinks and for taking upskirt photographs.
Investigators found that on Feb 21, 2008, the accused recorded himself masturbating in front of his colleague's photograph and collecting his semen in a small bottle.
He went to his office and mixed his semen with the drinking water in a female colleague's water bottle.
He then secretly filmed her drinking the tainted water.
The man did the same thing two months later, this time contaminating another woman's green tea. He also took more than 100 upskirt videos of unsuspecting women over four years.
He pleaded guilty to two charges of mischief for tainting the drinks and eight of intruding into the privacy of his female colleagues and unknown women between 2005 and 2009, with 149 charges considered during sentencing.
This article was first published on Jan 20, 2016.
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